Archive | Ecuador Q&A

Confessions of a cattle baron in Ecuador

You don’t realize it until you drive from the highlands of Ecuador down to the coast, like I did this week, but Ecuador has a lot of good cattle land.

Ecuador has miles and miles of lush, green foothills leading up from the coast that get tons of rain. And anyone who has had to maintain a lawn knows with a lot of water grass grows fast! Just what you need if raising cattle.

And down here it’s year round, no winters!

So at a routine stop buying cheese I met the owner of the cattle farm I was at, and struck up a conversation.

And as usual, I’ve found agro-business people to be very open with information, unlike most secretive business-folks.

There’s just so much to go around I guess.

Afterall, in 3-plus years living in Ecuador and serving food to Ecuadorians and foreigners alike, I have yet to meet an Ecuadorian vegetarian.

Maybe one exists, but I doubt it, Ecuadorians love meat!

The good thing was this guy wasn’t trying to sell me something, so you have a feeling his numbers would be more accurate.

He started, “you buy the baby calfs for $150, and after about a year you can sell them weighing 1000 pounds at the going-Ecuador-rate of $2 per pound, but some cuts fetch $5-7 per pound.”

I continued, “Wow, thats a great return, $2000+ dollars for each after one year, how many can you fit per hectare (2.2 acres)?”

“In this rainy climate with fast growing grass, we can fit 2 or 3 per hectare.”

I followed, “How big is your farm?”

He said, “it’s a small farm, of about 25 hectares.”

“So, what are your biggest costs?” I asked.

“Well, the help of course, the water comes from an on-site stream, the grass grows on its own. But we have just 2 full-time farm hands, the rest of the workers are just temp help we hire for special tasks and pay by the day ($15 a day).”

“So, what does good cattle land around here go for?” I continued.

“My friend just bought a small 4 hectare lot for $20,000 USD.” He stated.

Not wanting to get too nosy, I concluded, “so is this your primary source of income or day job?”

“No,” he said, “I’m a lawyer in Quito, But I come here on the weekends.”

There you have it, a brief but intriging look at the cattle biz in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

Prepping the land for success in Ecuador

Next up after tractoring the land came digging out the on-site resevoir which had been overgrown by weeds.

The resevoir is fed by a “seikia” or a shared irrigation system common in Ecuador where rivers are split off into canal-like things to farm certain areas.

My lot has rights to part of the “seikia”.

I had to hire an excavator truck to come and dig the resevoir out.

This guy charged $30 an hour. And he was finished in 4 hrs.

Total cost $120.

After that, next came the organic fertilizer of hen droppings and rice shells.

Two truck loads for my hectare (2.2 acres), each truck load had 9 cubic meters of material.

Total price of both loads $480.

When you buy fertilizer in Ecuador, be sure it doesnt have too much wood mulch in it, and that it is HEN droppings (gallina) as chicken (pollo) droppings are not as good a quality.

After getting the fertilizer I had to pay 3 guys a total of $100 to spread it around, it took them about a day and a half.

See pic below.

tractor

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

Growing Stevia for Cash in Ecuador

OK, so after a whole lot of research, the product I´m going to harvest first in Ecuador is… drumroll please:

Stevia.

Stevia is a plant that originates from the South American Amazon (Paraguay region) that is used as a natural sweetener with zero calories used in the place of sugar.  It grows in the tropics up until 2,400 meters of altitude provided it has a steady, almost daily water source.

I know first hand that sugar is dangerous (especially for your waistline) and addictive.  The less you have the less you want it.

Why Stevia?

I like that it´s a South American plant, so it´s not like you´re forcing something on the land that shouldn´t be there.

Also, I know first-hand through serving food at the restaurant in my hotel, sometimes we serve as many as 40 people in one night, that people are getting more and more sugar-carb-gluten-lactose conscious than ever before and any product that fits in with those diets can be a winner.

In the west, Stevia is still relatively new on the scene, and on the come-up.  In 2008 certain extracts were approved by the FDA, in 2011 it was approved by the European Union.

The demand for the plant worldwide is growing exponentially.  According to El PAIS, one of the largest newspapers in Spain, Stevia consumption worldwide has grown from 35 tons in 2008 to 916 tons in 2013.

I also like that the harvest cycle is short, every 3 months you can expect a new harvest.  So I should know quickly if this is a true money maker.

Expected production and income.

80,000 plants can enter into one hectare.  I´m going to start with 40,000 plants.  Each plant is expected to produce 40-120 grams of dried leaf product each three months.  The kilo sells here in Ecuador for around $4 per kilo.  So for 40,000 plants at the low end of 40 grams per plant thats 1,600 kilos each 3 months.

Total expected income from 40,000 plants each three months= $6,400.  Total per year= $25,600.

Plus, if I grow, in the future I could export for potentially higher prices.

What will I really make?  Stay tuned to this newsletter to find out.

Expected initial costs.

I’ve been covering the costs as I go.  So far I’ve spent about $600 in prepping the land and $1250 in the annual lease paid up front.  This week i hope to install th irrigation system which could be a few thousand more dollars  but I may have found a way to minimize that cost.  I don’t plan on hiring anyone fulltime, just part timers to help weed, prune and harvest.  The average cost per day of temporary help is $15 per day.

This is still an unknown but I’ll cover this every step of the way, stay tuned!  And in the near future I may be interested in taking on an investor for a bigger plantation so if interested let me know.

So which crops are the most profitable options in Ecuador?  For that and more, you’d love my weekly newsletter, revealing everything you need to know BEFORE you invest in Ecuador. Unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

The critical first 2 steps to farming a lot in Ecuador

This week I closed the deal for the lease of the 1 hectare lot near my place which I plan to farm with a soon-to-be-named product later this week (stay tuned!)…

After speaking to my agro-engineer specialist who I plan to work with on this product, the first two critical steps are taking a soil sample and tractoring the land.

For the soil sample he wanted to test the land primarily for percentage of organic material, sandyness of soil, pH and be sure there was not anything hazardous in the mix.

The cost was $45 and it will take 2 weeks to get the results back. We dropped the sample off in Tumbaco in the agro-institute across from the CNT office.

The tractoring has been in three phases.

The first phrase was to drag the lot killing all the weeds. (Rastre). 2 hrs. ($17 per hr)

The next phase was to upheave the lot to get the tired used soil below the better richer soil. 2 hrs. (17 hr)

The last phase was to once again level out the lot by draging it again. 1 hr. $17 per hr.

Total cost $85.

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

How you avoid paying gringo prices in Ecuador

“Just pay me what you will.” Said the local who helped me find my agricultural lot this week.

I was thinking a decent finders fee in the States would be at least a few hundred if not a few thousand dollars, so I was going to offer him a few hundred.

Then I caught myself!

Don’t think like that when you move to another country, I told myself.

Always always always pay the minumum amount accepted by the other person or ‘best price’ even if you think it’s TOO embarrasing low.

Why?

Because if you don’t you’re setting yourself up for that person in the future to overcharge you cause he’ll think “well, I’m going to milk it, he can pay it”.

That’s how a lot of people down here think. Rich Ecuadorians know it.

Always play “I’m broke” even if you’re not or you set yourself up to be a target in the future.

Never overpay!

To avoid being “gringoed” insist on them giving YOU the price.

Especially, when you don’t know how much the service or property should cost. And often being in a new land, you won’t know.

Afterall, how much is it to fix a sink in Manta, Ecuador?

“No freaking idea” would be your probable response.

But, hey, they provided the service.

So get THEM to give you their price first even if they insist you give your price first, then, you can negotiate from there to get the BEST PRICE POSSIBLE.

He said, give me a hundred dollars, shocked at the low price I reached into my pocket.

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

How To Find The Cheapest (And Best) Farmland In Ecuador

Deciding I was going to lease a farm lot was the easy part.

Now, how do I actually find one with a solid water source, no surprises, near me, and at a good price?

I quickly realized driving around that searching for farm land is WAY DIFFERENT than what I learned when I wrote my guide on how to find the best property deals on the coast of Ecuador.

The tactics are way different. I could be at this for MONTHS with no luck.

Forget the Internet, nothing good listed there.

No ‘for sale’ signs.

No real estate agents.

No asking at street stores or local taxis, they don’t know.

No asking of the farmers, most the people you see working the fields are just farmhands, probably hired for the day, not even from the area. Chances are they haven’t even met the farm owner of the place they’re working nor any other owners in the area.

This was going to be tough.

So, I went to the one local contact I had in the area that was already leasing land and farming himself. Told him to help me look, and I’d take care of him.

And, within a few hours he came and knocked on my door and had 4 different options to choose from.

I chose the one closest to me, and he said it had a good water source as the lot was actually right next to his and literally a Peyton Manning stone throw from my Hotel near the airport in Quito.

The lot is about 1 hectare (2.2 acres), negotiated price of $1250 per year. Before me strawberries were planted there.

So there you have it, to find the BEST deals on farmland, pick an area, go, hang out a while, make a local contact or three and have them help you look. I call them rabbits. Find yourself a local rabbit!

Now, let’s do it!

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

Getting your own farm in Ecuador without buying the land

No one in my school growing up in Cleveland, Ohio said they wanted to get into farming.

It was never a realistic option for me or my peers.

Hard to compete with the big boys in North America and their subsidies.

But, down here in Ecuador, the land is so fertile, the water so plentiful, and so many of the wealthy have small to medium sized farms, you can’t help but get curious about it.

But when you really start to talk to folks involved in farming you realize…

…many of them don’t even own the land!

They lease.

Lease the land, pay by the year, one solo payment that gives them rights to grow anything on the land they want.

Particularly where I’m at in the valleys of Quito the land prices are HIGH (compared to the rest of Ecuador) starting around $40-60 per meter.

That would mean 1 hectare would be $400,000 USD!  That’s a lot of money!

So most farmers lease.

In my area they pay around $800-1200 per year.

And I’m going to do just that, afterall, what does a guy from the suburbs know about farming?

Nothing.

So for my first experiment I’d like to do something close to where I live so I can keep my finger on it.

Stay tuned in the coming days and weeks to see how this goes!  I’ll share everything.

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

The biggest danger you face in Ecuador…

BAM!!

“What the f@ck was that,” I thought as I sat up in bed.

The noise woke me up.

BAM!!

There it was again, sounded like a gun shot, in my house!

Now, I was really worried.

You see, I was a new arrival immigrant in Ecuador, three plus years ago, with no money and just a carry-on full of belongings, staying in a run-down student housing building on the ghetto south-side of the “Centro” of Guayaquil.

My only furniture was a little-box-bed I was sleeping on.

I was new, I didn’t know that this was NOT a good place to live, especially for a foreigner.

So…

I opened my bedroom door and still rubbing my eyes walked out through the hallway past the other students rooms and into the main area at the front of the house where I saw a gardener working.

“Buenos dias, boss” the gardener said.

I waved and went back to bed.

Later that morning I got a powerful knock on the door, it was another student that was in the building.

“Dude, we’ve been robbed!” He proclaimed.

“What?!?” I was shocked, remember, I was a newbie North American in Ecuadorian student housing. Afterall, this stuff never happened in the cushy suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio where I was born and raised.

We went to his room where it had been ransacked, along with the neighbor, and examening closely my door, it had been broke too, the noise I heard was the burglar trying to kick in my door, twice!

Thankfully, it was a solid wooden door cause if he would have got in and saw me there, it would’ve been two caged rats, only one getting out alive.

And then it hit me, the “gardener” was the burglar, he didn’t have time to get out when I came out and faked it, boy did I feel stupid when I told the other students.

He thought on a holiday weekend a student housing complex would be empty, well, I having no family in Ecuador had no where else to go and was there.

The next day I was out of there, moving to a nicer part of Guayaquil.

You see, the biggest danger you’ll face in Ecuador is from break ins, and yes, Ecuadorians already know this and take measures to prevent against it.

For instance, they put up big walls around the property, live in gated communities, put ghetto glass on the tops of the walls, get big dogs, even let poor local families live on their property so it’s not so vacant.

Usually, robbers in Ecuador will only go for a house that is OBVIOUSLY vacant.

Know this and take it into account before you buy or rent in Ecuador, how’s the security of the house/condo?

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

The Exact step-by-step process and costs for getting your (second) Ecuadorian passport

 I got a friend, a young American guy in his early thirties who goes by the name Bart Simpson.

He’s rich, specifically, a “dot com” millionaire.

And his hobby in life now is collecting passports, he has six already to be exact.

A South American one is his next target as it would open up the whole continent for him.

He’s done his homework, and according to him, Ecuador is the EASIEST to get.

So that’s why he’s here.

I was helping him out, and here is the exact process you need to follow to get your second Ecuadorian passport.  

1. After at least 2 and a half years of residency (technically they say 3 years but my contact who works in the Quito office told me you can really apply after 2 and a half years from the day you get your Ecuador cedula or ID card) you can apply for the dual citizenship which gets you an Ecuadorian Passport.  You can not be out of the country during those first 2 and a half years a total of more than 90 days, but you can apply for citizenship anyway even if you pass this limit but you’ll have to submit a letter stating why you passed the limit and hope they still sign off on it.

2. Gather the requirements.  
– Birth certificate, apostilled and translated to Spanish.
– Passport color copy of the passport where you have the residency visa stamp.  Your passport must have at least 6 months of validity.
-Color copy of Ecuadorian Cedula(ID card).
– Get document from civil registry (registro civil) that states first date of cedula (tarjeta indice de filiacion que dice la primera fecha de cedulacion)
– Certificate of compliance (Certificado de cumplimiento de obligaciones) from the SRI (IRS of Ecuador) stating you are up-to-date on any taxes.
– Certificate of compliance (Certificado de cumplimiento de obligaciones) from your local Municipality stating you are up-to-date on any taxes.
– Certificate of compliance (Certificado de cumplimiento de obligaciones) from the IESS social security system of Ecuador stating you are up-to-date on any payments.
– Police record from all the countries (including Ecuador) where you’ve lived the last 5 years. They are currently accepting only federal level checks from countries with a federal government, for Americans, that means an FBI check, apostilled.
– Migratory movement card, obtained in Ecuadorfrom immigration for $4. (Movimiento Migratorio)
– 4 color passport sized photos.
– Proof of Ecuador solvency:  Like a bank certificate, bank statements last three months, for business owners the monthly sales tax declarations, copies of the title (escritura) of any property or businesses you own in Ecuador or a copy of your rental contract properly inscribed in the rental agency (Juzgado de Inquilinato).

3. In person, they require you submit your documentation in Quito in the Immigration office (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores) on 10 de agosto. You can also submit in Guayaquil.

4. You’ll be called in within a few months to take a written exam in Spanish on basic Ecuadorian history.  it is not pass/fail, it is just to put in your file, and they would like to see some effort.  It is not verbal in anyway but they reserve the right to do some verbal questions if they wish (but they usually don’t according to  my contact).

5. Upon acceptance of application you must publish an ad in local paper announcing your new citizenship.

6. You will then be called in with all the others that day accepted into Ecuadorian citizenship to sing the national hymn (together, not solo) and confirm your new citizenship.  You will need to bring three Ecuadorian witnesses.  You can then go get your Ecuadorian passport.

Duration: about 6 months.

Cost: $200 application fee, $500 acceptance fee, approx $403 publication fee, $285 Civil Registry fee.  All fees are one-time-only, but Ecuador citizenship is for life unless you renounce it.   These costs are the cheapest you can do it for without using an attorney.

Total: Appox $1300.

And to prep for the test, simplifying it and giving you just what you need-to-know, you’d love my weekly newsletter, revealing everything you need to know BEFORE you invest in Ecuador. Unsubscribe at any time:

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

Will your pet be detained upon entering Ecuador?

Recently a friend of mine brought her pet to Ecuador… here´s what went down…

First, before coming she made sure she had the necessary documents: A vaccination certificate for international travel and a certification from an FDA approved veternarian that the pet was healthy. All of which needs to be done right before traveling and for extra security I´d get all the documents certified by an Ecuador consulate before coming.

The airline in the USA initially caused concern saying she MUST have a “pet broker”, but she got around this explaining she had a friend lined up that was going to help her. Before flying check with your airline on if a broker is NEEDED or not to board the plane, usually not, but some are more strict.

If possible, bring the pet as a carry-on as if they are in the cabin they often can just walk right out with you upon arrival, if they come in cargo, and you arrive late at night the pet will stay detained until the next business day.

Her dog was too big to ride carry-on. So it spent the night detained in customs.

The following morning she went to the Quito airport, where she was told she had to go to the UNITED CARGO pick up offices in the nearby town of Tababela.

There, she was told she had to go to another building near the airport to pay an environmental inspection tax of about $28, from there on to Customs where she had to pay another small fee and wait for another inspection.

After that she had to go pay the storage of the dog for the night which was $15 in order to release the dog. The payments were made in a nearby bank, no bribes, no brokers needed.

In all the spots she was asked for the documents she brought from the states plus the bill of lading and her BOARDING PASS!

The whole process took about 8 hours so don´t expect it to be quick!

T.I.E. my friend, This is Ecuador.

For more specific information on this I´d call an Ecuador consulate in the US. They´ll tell you what you need to gather.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Expansion complete: the surprising difference between a 6 and 23 room hotel

Often, the first business most of us expats think of putting in our new country is a guesthouse.

It´s not a bad idea cause you really don´t need any formal education on the subject to do it. It wasn´t my plan either, I just kind of fell into it.

First in Guayaquil, partnering with a friend to start a small guesthouse, then here in Quito.

But most people start like I did in both Guayaquil then Quito: with five o six rooms.

My advice… don´t!

Unless, you really enjoy it of course.

Why?

Well, a few months back i finished an expansion from 6 to now 23 rooms.

And what´s the surprising difference between running the two, or between a small and a large guesthouse?

Nothing!

Really! The costs are ALMOST the same and either way it´s still a 24 hour business.

Even the email load is about the same.

Time invested… the same! It´s a 24 hour business either way! You need at least one person there ALL the time unless your cheap and want to handcuff yourself to the place.

Before, with six rooms, I had one person at night, one cleaner, and one part timer receptionist in the daytime with a part time cleaner that works when the full timer has off.

Thats two full timers and two part timers.

Now, with the 23 room place I´ve needed to add one more full time cleaner so i now have two cleaners daily, yet the same part time afternoon receptionist and the same night receptionist.

That´s it!

And cause I serve dinner I´ve had to hire a part-time chef cause with that many people one person can´t cook and attend the clients like they could before.

So what´s the difference between 6 and 23 rooms? One more full time cleaner and one part time chef.

But the difference in revenue is substantial.

It´s simple math, if you can charge $50 a room and fill the place, with just 5 or 6 rooms thats $250-300 a day revenue minus all your expenses equalling a bottom line of NOT MUCH.

But with over 20 rooms you can obviously generate over 4 times as much (with minimal increased expenses) if you can keep it full.

So if you are going to do it, do it big. Below is a pic of the new addition that was completed at my hotel near the Quito airport, total build time, roughly 3 months.

hotels-near-quito-international-airport

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

The difference between car insurance in Ecuador vs the US

Yesterday, I hired private car insurance for the first time since i moved to Ecuador.

It’s true that most Ecuadorians just go with the state mandated liability insurance that covers damages to third parties (previously known as SOAT) that costs about $45/year. But that still doesn’t cover YOUR car in the case of an accident or theft.

There’s actually a lot of companies to choose from, some international… to name a few: MapFre, Constitucion, QBE, Equinnoccial.

The policies work pretty similar to the ones in North America, as I’m sure the whole concept of insurance was created there.

But in Ecuador things are not always as they seem. The consumer is not nearly as well protected as you’re used to in North America, thus, the businesses down here are noticeably more sneaky.

The biggest difference I see is in the deductibles.

Usually, in North America you have an easy-to-understand flat deductible, any damage past that value the insurance pays, up to that point you pay.

Well, after analyzing several options in Ecuador, the insurance companies all seem to have three values which can serve as the deductible, stating that the higher value one in a particular case will reign supreme.

For instance, my new policy states in the case of an accident, the deductible is 1% of the insured value of the car OR $200 OR 10% of the cost of the damage…. WHICHEVER is higher.

So for my $18,500 car in the case of a complete loss due to theft or crash or whatever I’d be on the hook for $1,850 (10% of the damage which is the highest amount in this case).

Read the fine print in Ecuador!

Here are two English speaking insurance agents in Ecuador that come highly recommended by friends of mine (although I admit I haven’t worked much with either of them yet)…

In Quito… Mauricio Davila email mdavila10@hotmail.com

In Cuenca… Luisa María Castro, BLUE BOX ASESORES, 0983958876 lcastro@blueboxinsurance.com

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Expected returns in Ecuador, and how Ecuadorians double them

A lot of people don’t know this about me… but I actually have an Ecuadorian mentor.

He’s born and raised Ecuadorian, from Guayaquil, self-made, about 50, and currently owns a hotel in Salinas, a rent a car company in Guayaquil, and a few other smaller hotels in Guayaquil.

I actually partnered with him when I part-owned a hostal in Guayaquil, my first significant investment in Ecuador. I wouldn’t have had the guts to do something like that on my own when I first got here, he showed me the biz.

Anyway, we still keep in touch, and one day we were talking and I asked him what he considered to be a good investment?

He responded, “20%…” OK I thought, that’s good.

But he wasn’t finished… “a month”.

“Wow, really? That’s how rich Ecuadorians think?” …was all that went through my head.

But after being here a while (3 years +) I can honestly say its true, for a lot of investments in Ecuador, that’s about the return you should expect.

Remember, like most places in Latin America, Ecuador should be considered a higher risk investment, and the returns should substantiate that.

So, how do Ecuadorians double their returns?

Rent.

Yea, I learned this here in Ecuador. Rent the property and put the business, or rent the business, redo it and really put it to work and you will often see 100% returns on your now much smaller investment and get your money out within 2 or 3 months!

Sometimes it makes sense, but you don’t necesarily have to own ‘the trains’!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Investor News/Analysis

Keeping your car legal in Ecuador

Got a car in Ecuador?

Worried the papers might not be up-to-date and the next time you´re pulled over might be your last?

I got several friends with cars in Ecuador and almost all of them have cars with expired registrations and are subsequently illegal for transit.

When really, it´s pretty easy to keep your car legal, I think most expats just don´t know how to do it.

Once you have a car in Ecuador, each year you have to pay the annual “matricula” or registration.  It´s more expensive for newer or more expensive cars, yet with each passing year the amount to pay goes down considerably.

For instance a $22,000 new car may have a “matricula” payment of around $600 while the same car 3 years later may only have to pay around $200 in the annual “matricula”.  You can consult by plate number how much you´ll have to pay at the folowing link.

When you have to pay in the year is determined by the last number of your license plate. For instance, plates ending in “1” have to pay in February of each year while “2” has to pay in March and so on until “0” has to pay by November.  You can pay in advance.

To pay the amount due all you have to do is go to any bigger bank in Ecuador like a Banco Pichincha with your Matricula card, hand it to the teller, and they´ll tell you how much to pay.  Make sure you keep the receipt, and that´s it for newer cars, you are done!

Now, every three years or so you will have to go into the ANT (Agencia Nacional de Transito) office nearest you and renew your Matricula card after you have paid the amount due in the bank.

For cars usually 3 years or older, after you pay in the bank you will need to get an annual car “revision” where they will check primarily for emissions, the lights, suspension, alignment and brakes and the cost for smaller cars is around $28.  Pretty straightforward.

For a car revision you will need to apply for a turn in Quito at this site.  For Guayaquil, try here.  Manta and Cuenca also have their revision points, just Google “revision vehicular MANTA” or wherever.

For newer cars, usually three years or younger the revision is not necessary, you can also verify by a sticker on the windshield if a revision is necessary for your vehicle.  It´ll say EXEMPT (Exento) 2013, 2014, 2015 or whatever.  This link helps too for general info on your vehicle and also to see when it last passed a revision.

Also, to register your car for the current year keeping it legal to transit, you will also have to pay any outstanding fines or you will be forced to do so before payng the annual registration payment at the bank, you can see if your car owes at this link.
That´s it!  Now you won´t have to sweat it next time you´re pulled over in Ecuador. You´re legal!

 

 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Getting Internet (data in your phone) anytime anywhere in Ecuador – Not always as easy as you think

I know, I know, I get it.

Staying connected to the Internet is more important than water, electricity for you.

We´ve reached that point in our society.

Problem is, in Ecuador, the Internet connection is not so good, especially in the small towns.  Even hotels that advertise they have WIFI, often will be having network problems.

But there is something you can do about it.

First, go to BestBuy USA or whever and get an UNLOCKED smart phone with a SIM card slot, BLU are the cheapest starting around $100.

Then once in Ecuador buy a SIM card for $7 that gives you an Ecuador number and gets you on the local network.  There are only two cell phone service providers in Ecuador Claro and Movistar.

OK, once you have the SIM card in the phone, activated, go to any local street store that sells RECARGAS or minutes.  You can add $1, $3, $5, $10 or more.
Once the minutes are added, to activate the credit as DATA INTERNET

For Claro dial: *123# and then follow the prompts.

For Movistar: After loading $5 of credit, Send a text message to the number 334… with the word “siete” then you’ll get a response and respond to that message with the command “INTR7”.  Thats it, you ll get a confirmation of 200mb of DATA surfing over a period of seven days.

When you’re on a limited mega count, try to avoid watching videos or downloading things as this consumes most of your megas.  Social media and email consume very little megas.

This way anyone, even a tourist in Ecuador, can stay connected anywhere, anytime, no matter if the WIFI is down.


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Ecuador dual citizenship myths debunked- How to get around the 90 day rule

There’s really only one simple requirement that qualifies you for an Ecuadorian second passport (aka Ecuador dual citizenship)… you need 3 years of permanent residency after getting any of the resident visas and obtaining your “cedula” ID card.

In fact, I was told by my source in immigration you can actually apply after about 2 and a half years.

That’s it!  By far the easiest South American passport to obtain!

But there is a lot of mis-information out there on this subject, mainly us gringos regurgitating random stuff we read on online forums.

1. Will getting dual Ecuadorian citizenship cause me to lose my original citizenship and passport?  No!  Not if you are from a country that allows and recognizes dual citizens like the USA, Canada, Ecuador and Great Britain to name a few.

2. Will getting Ecuador dual citizenship create an EXTRA tax burden for me?  No. Ecuador like most countries not named THE US…tax only income made in Ecuador, doesn’t even matter what nationality the person that makes it is, if you are given an official Ecuadorian purchase receipt (factura) you have to pay tax to Ecuador on it.  If not, no.  Ecuador does not tax foreign made income.

3. Isn’t Ecuador one of those mandatory military service states?  Actually yes, it is, but T.I.E. my friend (this is Ecuador)… to get out of it all an Ecuadorian male has to do is pay a tiny fine (last I heard it was well under $200).  And truth be told, they would only be interested in you and possibly enforce it if you were 18-21 anyway.  In fact, its not at all like the US, or like you think, there is actually a surplus of demand from locals to join the forces, and many who want to join are left out!  Really!  There just aren’t that many spots.

Now the biggest, baddest two myths that prevent most us gringos from even trying…
4. Isn’t there a new law that states you must be out of the country for a maximum of 90 days TOTAL for the three years prior to applying for residency?  Actually, this is CORRECT, BUT T.I.E. my friend (this is Ecuador), I know you probably think like a gringo and everything is black or white, right or wrong, I get it, I do too.  But this is Ecuador, the land where who you know and what you know often prevails.  For instance, to get around this one in a totally legit, legal way you can right a letter and submit with your application explaining the extenuating circumstances that caused you to be out of country more than the time allotment.  For example, a death, a health issue, etc… of course substantiated by apostilled proof from a doctor or whatnot helps.  Its not a given they would pass it, but its possible, one ecuadorian immigration official working in the Quito citizenship office informed me THIS MONTH, June 2015 in Quito.  I would personally apply in Quito too, not Cuenca, they just seem nicer.

5. Isn’t there a nasty verbal exam of my Spanish level?  No!  The exam is actually WRITTEN, which makes it MUCH easier, yes, it is in Spanish, but with some test prep like the guide I’m offering today you should be fine.  You will have to sing the Ecuadorian hym, but that is when you have ALREADY been accepted and you won’t be by yourself, but with everyone else sworn in that day so I’m sure you could find a way to ‘fake it til you make it’ like you did back in high school choir class.  As for the written exam, the official told me you really have to B#MB it to fail it and yes, they’d let you take it again.  They just want to see some effort.  He also said the older you are the less they expect you to speak decent Spanish.  So NO, there is no verbal exam but yes, some basic Spanish chit-chat would be nice to know going in, you know, stuff you can learn in a few weeks of Spanish lessons.

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Getting electricity to your lot in Ecuador

And on goes my building project on the coast of Ecuador.

Next up, electricity, not necessarily a sure thing in Ecuador.

But in this case, the electricity was about 100 meters away from my lot, maybe a bit less, so it wasnt a huge deal hooking it up to my property.

Total cost $2450 for everything, one guy did it all, installed two posts, one transformer for max 2 houses, and also did the certification with the electric company and got the meter installed.

In a few days he was done.

If I build more houses in the near future i can trade him the transformer i got for a more powerful one and he will discount the full price of the one i have.

As for installing the electrical outlets and breakers in the home itself, normally, I now electricians in Ecuador charge $12 per point, or per outlet installed. We found one recommended local that will do it for a total of $700 the whole house.

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Pedernales beachfront lot for sale 920m2, $43k

pedernales-beachfront-real-estatePedernales beachfront lot for sale 920m2, $43k Negotiable.Right on main coastal road.  Lot goes from road to ocean.  Hard to beat beachfront even in Ecuador for under $40 per meter.  Call for more…

Jorge luis sanchez

0983680353

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

Getting water to your lot on the coast of Ecuador

Before we could even think about building anything here on the coast just south of Manta, Ecuador, we had to get water to the lot.

Electricity can come later.

Like with most things in Ecuador, its usually either ridiculously easy or excruciatingly difficult.

Thankfully, this time it was easy.

Like usual in Ecuador, we asked our neighbors how they got water and found out there was a newly installed city line right near our property.

The expats near us were Ok with letting us plug in but said they invested to bring the line where it was so they asked us to chip in with a one time “tip” of $180.

We paid it, and with their blessings we plugged right in with our “T” as you can see in the pic.

No meters yet in this area of town but they will soon be installed so I´m told.

installing-water-to-lot-in-ecuador

So for now the water is free.

In a previous property I owned south of here on the coast I was plugged into the city line and paid around $4 a month.

Gotta love Ecuador!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Budget airline arrives in Ecuador, brings lower prices to USA: Get RT Miami-Quito under $400

VivaColombia is a budget airline based out of Colombia that just made getting to the US from Ecuador and vice versa a whole lot cheaper.

And not just once in a blue moon, pretty much anytime you want to go in 2015 you can find a roundtrip flight QUITO to USA (MIAMI) for around $400 with my below method.

I noticed chatting to guests at my hotel near the Quito airport, as of last month, April 2015, VivaColombia has upped its frequency of flights to a few a day (which has lowered the price) from Quito to Bogota.

So first, buy a Quito to Bogota round trip with Viva which is going for around $185 taxes included.

That´s cheap!

Then, use Spirit Air, another personally-preferred budget carrier, to get roundtrip from Bogota to Miami which I´m seeing start around $249 taxes included.

That´s $434 taxes included, roundtrip, everything.

This is currently the cheapest way I´ve seen to get from North America to Ecuador in 2015.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A, Ecuador Travel Guides, Expat Lifestyle

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